New La Crosse donut shop highlights value of small businesses as economy recovers

'Dirty Dozen' donut business thriving, Couleecap showcases class helping new and existing business owners reach goals
Dirty Dozen Donuts

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – Experts say supporting businesses less than five years old is a good way to boost the local economy. As the economy opens up, so are new ideas that add jobs and help communities recover from the pandemic. Some new business owners found success starting small.

“It was pretty low-key, very underground,” Josh Dumale said, head chef at Dirty Dozen, a new donut business in La Crosse. “We did a lot of private sales.”

People wouldn’t know a cop’s favorite morning treat comes from inside the walls of the Coulee Region Business center on Kane Street.

“We used to do it out of my basement in Onalaska,” Dumale said.

Dirty Dozen, created by Dumale, Jason Blanchard, and Max Jesseski, a few dads with a sprinkle of baking talent.

“And then the next thing you know we go from like 25 to 30 boxes on a weekend, and now we’re averaging 70 to like 85 boxes,” Dumale said.

La Crosse business owner Lissa Carlson said their idea is what new and existing entrepreneurs should keep in mind.

“They have a product that everybody loves,” Carlson said.

Dumale said they sell their product through another local business startup called Sabadash. The popularity of their product took off from there.

“We thought it’d be funny to release the sale at 4 a.m. just to see who wanted to get up at 4 a.m. for donuts,” Dumale said. “At 3:55 there was like 250 people waiting in line to get the donuts.”

So much interest the website crashed. They are a case study Aaron Reimler of CO.STARTERS watches.

“Most economic productivity comes from firms that are less than five years old,” Reimler said.

CO.STARTERS is run by Couleecap along with other La Crosse business leaders. They offer a business course for new and existing business owners.

“Let’s help give you a leg up so your great idea works,” Clara Gelatt said, a small business owner.

It’s not a “get rich quick” class.

“It’s not something that’s going to hand you the keys to a car that’s already running,” Reimler said. “You’re gonna get out of it what you put into it.”

Experts and other business owners help people avoid spending too much money on an unattainable goal.

“Before you even sign a lease somewhere, is there a way you can start this business smaller,” Gelatt said.

CO.STARTERS offers realistic goals and honest advice.

“We’re kind of waiting for that perfect opportunity to take this full time,” Dumale said.

These treats help satisfy the community’s sweet tooth, but they also help fill the economic void the pandemic left behind.

“They provide jobs, they leverage community equity, and bring value to the spaces in which we gather,” Reimler said.

The CO.STARTERS program will be held on Thursday nights at 6 p.m. beginning on May sixth. The cost is $300 per person with opportunities for scholarships, discounts, and deferments.

To register for more information head to, or contact Couleecap Business & Income Developer, Aaron Reimler, or by calling (608) 782-5525.